Can Sunlight Lower Blood Pressure?

Maylin Rodriguez Paez RN

Sunlight has gotten a bad rap, unfortunately. In the West we seem to have adopted two extremes: "sun worshippers" and people who avoid sunlight at all costs.

Regardless of what side you’re on, the truth is this: A little bit of sunshine is a good thing.

A recent study's results certainly seem to support this assertion. Scottish researchers administered UV light to a group of volunteers and what they found was pretty amazing. UV light decreased blood pressure levels significantly.

20 Minutes of UV Light Reduced Blood Pressure Several Points

Researchers wanted to investigate the relationship between blood pressure and sunlight. They noted that blood pressure levels tend to be higher in the winter and lower in the summer and in regions near the equator.

They recruited 24 healthy volunteers and exposed their forearms to UVA light with indoor lamps. Two sessions, 20 minutes each, were administered daily. A placebo group received heat and light treatments but no UVA exposure.

They found the UVA lamps increased circulation and lowered blood pressure between 2–5 points.1

The changes were modest, although the lead researcher believes bigger changes could be seen in people with hypertension.

UV Light Releases Nitric Oxide, a Blood Pressure Lowering Gas

It turns out that our skin stores nitric oxide, and UV light mobilizes these stores. The researchers were able to visualize this using a fluorescent microscope.

Nitric oxide regulates blood pressure by widening blood vessels and increasing circulation. As we age, the amount of nitric oxide released into the bloodstream decreases.

Nitric oxide deficits are a culprit of hypertension and heart-related diseases. Increasing natural stores are an important way to maintain cardiovascular health.

Avoid Excessive Sunlight Exposure

There is a reason that sunshine feels so good: It’s actually good for us.

But we shouldn’t overdo it. A little bit of sunlight (15–30 minutes) goes a very long way.

Excessive sunlight exposure, especially the occasions leading to sunburns, have been linked to skin cancer. And if you’re fair skinned, you’re probably aware that it doesn't take much to burn you.

Want to reap the benefits of sunlight without compromising your skin? Take vitamin D. It’s produced when your skin comes into contact with light.

Research studies show that vitamin D may help to prevent and even treat hypertension.2-3


  1. J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1839-46. 
  2. Hypertension. 2008 Apr;51(4):1073-9. 
  3. Am J Hypertens. 2012 Nov;25(11):1215-22.


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